Thursday, February 28, 2013


I start a new job on Monday, for which I am thankful. Meanwhile today, after sleeping long, I have thought about what I need to do and determined to make a list. I have made a list and, rather than doing the items on it, have been reading and browsing the internet.

Just now I went to my "media library" at Amazon. There I can see the passages I've highlighted on my Kindle. I recently read Annie Dillard's novel The Maytrees and had highlighted a number of passages; however, they were not online. I realized that is because I have the wireless turned off on my Kindle. I do that to spare the battery.

So I scrolled down through what I did have and happened across this passage by Edith Wharton in her memoir, A Backward Glance (I believe my sister once paraphrased it to me):

...but in our individual lives, though the years are sad, the days have a way of being jubilant. Life is the saddest thing there is, next to death; yet there are always new countries to see, new books to read (and, I hope, to write), a thousand little daily wonders to marvel at and rejoice in, and those magical moments when the mere discovery that “the woodspurge has a cup of three” brings not despair but delight. 

I wondered what "the woodspurge has a cup of three" meant, so I googled it, and it is the last line of a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti called "The Woodspurge," so I wondered just what "woodspurge" is and googled that. It is a plant scientifically (or Latinally) known as Euphorbia amygdaloides. Woodspurge is easier to pronounce. Here is a picture of it from Wikipedia:

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(Bogdan, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, Euphorbia amygdaloides 2 bgiu)

And here is Rossetti's poem:

The Woodspurge 
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

The wind flapp'd loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk'd on at the wind's will,—
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,—
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower'd, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,—
The woodspurge has a cup of three.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Sorry for the nearly two-week silence. I visited my sister in California, and, like Miss Bingley's turn about the room, it was most refreshing, I assure you.

I hope to catch up on blogging soon. Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of a fountain at the Carmel Mission in Carmel, California.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Harbingers of spring

Yesterday in front of Rite-Aid were displays of primroses and pansies.
I pretty much never buy primroses. They are always the first flowers for sale every year. I think it's that they don't spread. When I see them in other people's gardens, they seem to just sit in a little clump. I am always glad to see them for sale, though, because it's a sign of spring. But I think they've been putting them out earlier in recent years. Kind of like when Christmas displays go up at Halloween; here, spring flower displays go up not long after Christmas.

The pretty pansies were quite tempting, but I resisted. It's just too early to plant stuff yet.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And another thing

Oh, and I also recorded a voicemail message for my new cell phone and put some names, numbers, and e-mail addresses into the contacts. That actually was quite time-consuming.

What I did

Did not move any books today (yet). I did make two appointments for car maintenance procedures, so that's something constructive. Brought the garbage can to the curb last night and back into the garage today. Cut the dog's bangs.

I'm trying to make the most of my accomplishments.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shelving (updated)

Today I moved some books from one bookcase to another. I'm making one room of my house a library, so I'm moving books in there, organizing as I go. I work on it sporadically. I don't know how long it's been a work in process, but a long time.

Quite a while ago I got all my novels in there, alphabetically by author. I allotted a certain amount of space for the novels, and to make my collection fit I got rid of any that were duplicates, or that I didn't particularly like or had no desire to re-read.

Today I moved my biographies in, alphabetical by subject. When it came to royalty, I went by the dynasty name. So Elizabeth I is counted as "T" for "Tudor," Catherine the Great "R" for Romanov, and Marie Antoinette "B" for Bourbon. But Teresa of Avila is "T" for "Teresa," as is Mother Teresa. And Augustine is "A."

I allowed two shelves, and when things got tight I pulled out some that I subjectively deemed more "spiritual memoir" than "biography," so I could give them a separate shelf. I also adjusted the height of the shelves, which is doable in this particular bookcase.

I then moved some history books, which I put roughly into order by date. That was less than one full shelf.

After moving shelves and books for a while, I started to sneeze quite bit. I took a break and didn't go back to the task the rest of the day.

Trivia question of the day:

She...had once paid him a visit in his humble parsonage; where she had perfectly approved all the alterations he had been making, and had even vouchsafed to suggest some herself, -- some shelves in the closets up stairs.

Who is "she" and who is "he" in the above quotation?

UPDATE. Answer to the trivia: "She" is Lady Catherine de Burgh and "he" is Mr. Collins. The quote comes from Pride and Prejudice (of course).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Going commercial

On a more this-worldly note, I watched the Super Bowl yesterday with my dad. I care nothing, if not less, about football and didn't even know who was playing until the day before yesterday, but it's a nation-wide cultural event and I decided to take part. I also like to give my dad some company for sports-watching sometimes. He likes to watch sports (his favorite is baseball), and neither my mom nor I provide much companionship in that area of life. So I try.

I chose the San Francisco Forty-Niners as the team I'd cheer for. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Jose) for quite a few years. My sister's family still lives there, and her youngest is a big-time Forty-Niners fan, so it was a family thing, too.

Part of the cultural thing is to watch the commercials. TV ads during the Super Bowl are the most expensive TV advertising there is, and the advertisers try to come up with a spot that will be "the one people talk about around the water cooler" the next day.

These were my favorites.

In first place, an ad for Ram Trucks, featuring an old Paul Harvey recording about farmers.

I am the granddaughter of a dairy farmer.

In second place, an ad for Budweiser beer, with a narrative about a horse recognizing the man who raised him.

I've always loved animal stories. This was sort of an equine version of Lassie Come-Home.

My dad knew an old man who raised and trained draft horses but finally had to sell them when he got too old to carry on. He went out to their new farm to visit them once and they recognized his voice and came to greet him and show him affection. He almost cried when he told my dad about it, and I almost cried when my dad repeated the story to me.

And in third place, a humorous ad for Oreo cookies, with a "whisper-fight" over whether the cookie or the cream is the best part.

How silly. Of course it's the cream.

After the game was over, I saw this Toyota commercial, which made me think of a nephew of mine (brother to the big Niners fan) who works for Toyota and travels around the country for them.

All in all, it was nice evening with my folks.

(I intentionally missed the half-time show. I never like it, so that's when I walked my dog.)


Last week, I found that hymn, "Safe in the Arms of Jesus."

Recently I also read, on my Kindle, No Pressure, Mr. President!, by Eric Metaxas. In it, he references his website,, and says you can find the story of the dream that was part of his conversion, and I found a video of him telling the story of his conversion. I also watched a video promoting a simulcast presentation and, in that video, speaking of Bonhoeffer, Metaxas says, "He calls death 'the last station on the road to freedom' -- freedom to walk into the arms of your savior when he calls you."

Then I read an article about near death experiences, called The Real Purpose of Near Death Experiences. I didn't search for the article; it was on a site I frequently visit. It was an interview with Betty Eadie, the author of a book called Embraced by the Light and also featured a video from the 1990s of Ms. Eadie's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Both the title and her talk again feature the motif of being not just welcomed but embraced by Jesus after death.

When certain phrases or themes keep coming to me, I believe God is bringing them to my attention. The recurrence of this theme concerns me. The most attractive idea is that God is comforting me for the recent losses in my extended family, or perhaps equipping me to extend comfort. A more worrisome idea is that he is preparing me for a closer, imminent loss, or possibly my own journey to heaven.

Also, some of what Ms. Eadie says seems theologically incorrect (for example, the pre-conception existence of human souls) or at least extra-biblical, and I plant my standard on orthodox Christianity. I believe in the divine inspiration of scripture but can only look at her experience as apocryphal, and, as the Belgic Confession says of the Apocrypha: "The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion."

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Yesterday was a sunny day. Stems are coming up for my irises. I didn't get any blooms last year. I wonder if I will this year.

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In my family, we were mindful that yesterday was my late brother's birthday. He would have been fifty-nine.

I just went hunting for a poem that would be about irises but also consolation in the face of death. I did not find one. Instead, here is an excerpt from I Corinthians 15:

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be,
but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.

But God gives it a body as he has determined,
and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

Not all flesh is the same:
People have one kind of flesh, animals have another,
birds another and fish another.

There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies;
but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind,
and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.

The sun has one kind of splendor,
the moon another and the stars another;
and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.